How to Travel the World for Less than $60 a day

How much does a year of traveling around the world cost? Certainly a fortune . . . right?

A few years ago when Skyler first proposed this idea of leaving our jobs, packing up everything, and traveling the world for a while, that was my first question. For our friends brave enough to ask, it’s their first question too. I thought it was something only rich retired folks could do. Fortunately, I was wrong. By staying close to the ground and traveling like a local — using public transportation, staying in family owned guesthouses, eating at local restaurants — traveling was often cheaper than just our monthly rent back in Atlanta.

Always pack snacks for the bus ride!


From the beginning, we’ve been reporting our expenses in each country. The idea was to share with our readers how accessible and downright affordable so many countries are to travel in. So, for my fellow budget nerds, straight out of my fancy-pants multi-tabbed Excel spreadsheet (Skyler is still teasing me about how much I love my RTW Spreadsheet), here is a summary of everything we spent in 13 months of travel.

397 Days, 5 Continents, 20 Countries = $46,157.77. $58.13/person/day.

Spending per Segment (for 2 people)

Segment Start End
Days Per Day Avg Total Cost
Thailand 1/10/13 1/26/13 17 $70.22 $1,193.77
Laos 1/27/13 2/7/13 12 $81.94 $983.33
Thailand (Bangkok) 2/8/13 2/11/13 4 $99.51 $398.03
Cambodia 2/12/13 3/3/13 20 $71.87 $1,437.41
Vietnam 3/4/13 4/2/13 30 $61.63 $1,848.98
Malaysia 4/3/13 4/19/13 17 $56.46 $959.89
Singapore 4/20/13 4/21/13 2 $154.97 $309.95
Thailand (Beaches) 4/22/13 5/1/13 10 $56.74 $567.37
India 5/2/13 6/11/13 41 $51.07 $2,093.94
Africa Overland Safari 6/12/13 7/6/13 25 $216.51 $5,412.66
South Africa 7/7/13 7/25/13 19 $96.85 $1,840.06
Turkey 7/26/13 9/12/13 49 $99.14 $4,857.62
Romania 9/13/13 9/14/13 2 $40.27 $80.55
Hungary 9/15/13 9/21/13 7 $79.85 $558.96
Germany 9/22/13 9/26/13 5 $138.50 $692.49
USA 9/27/13 10/8/13 12 $68.29 $819.45
Peru 10/9/13 11/24/13 47 $110.74 $5,204.81
Ecuador 11/25/13 11/29/13 5 $76.80 $384.02
Galapagos 11/30/13 12/11/13 12 $307.96 $3,695.50
Ecuador 12/12/13 12/24/13 13 $90.35 $1,174.56
Colombia 12/25/13 2/3/14 41 $87.93 $3,604.96
Aruba 2/4/14 2/10/14 7 $52.39 $366.75
Total 397  $98.64  $38,485.06

So if you exclude our transportation expenses (see below), we spent less than $50 per person per day!

Airfare and International Overland Transportation

Description Cost (for 2 people)
Train: Vientiane to Bangkok $61.75
Flight: Hanoi to KL $138.00
Flight: Singapore to Phuket $112.00
Flight: Phuket to Bangkok $80.27
Flight: Bangkok to Calcutta $216.00
Flight: Mumbai to Livingstone $1,674.93
Flight: Cape Town to Istanbul $767.39
Train:Istanbul to Bucharest $130.06
Train: Bucharest to Budapest $163.27
Train: Budapest to Munich $177.98
Flight: Frankfurt to Orlando $1,396.00
Flight: Tampa to Lima $796.08
Flight: Lima to Quito $203.08
Flight: Quito to Galapagos to Guayaquil $926.00
Flight: Riohacha to Aruba $368.90
Flight: Aruba to Orlando $461.00
Total $7,672.71
Thai River Trip
Taking it slow is the way to go.

By the Numbers

  • Most expensive segments of the trip: African Safari and Galapagos cruise. Also, arguably, our most awesome and memorable segments of the trip. Other expensive countries to note were Singapore and Germany, hence our short stays there.
  • Least expensive segment of the trip: Not counting our 2 days in Romania, it’s the 41 days we spent in India, spending just a little over $25/person/day while doing a LOT of moving around and splurging for our anniversary (see below).
  • Most expensive flight: Mumbai, India to Livingstone, Zambia on Kenya Airlines at $837/person.
  • Least expensive flight: Phuket, Thailand to Bangkok, Thailand on Air Asia for $40/person
  • Most expensive hotel: ITC Mughal in Agra, India, an $85/night treat to ourselves on our fifth wedding anniversary.
  • Least expensive hotel: Green Inn in Chiang Khong, Thailand. A private room (with TV!) for just $6.67/night prior to catching the slow boat to Laos.
Varanasi, India
Local hotels = Lots of character, kind hosts, meetups with like-minded travelers, and better service than we ever get at expensive 5-stars.

Budgeting Tips

  • Save up your Skymiles. Primarily thanks to all the traveling I did for work, we had a decent bank of frequent flier miles and hotel points to use at various points on the trip. Our initial flight from Atlanta to Bangkok was paid entirely with Delta Skymiles. We used Marriott points when in expensive cities, or just when we needed a break from cheapie rooms. We’re big fans of our Chase Marriott credit card, which includes 1 free night a year as part of the low annual fee and doesn’t charge international transaction fees.
  • Travel slow. You can find affordable places to stay, things to do, and places to eat just about everywhere. The biggest hit to your budget will be how much moving around you do. Traveling fast also wears you down, causing serious travel fatigue.
  • Become a “Temporary Local.” By traveling slow, you can rent an apartment, take public transportation, get to know your corner grocer, find the best noodle shop, be invited to play chess by the old guys at the park, maybe play some street cricket with the local kids. It’s culturally enriching and just so happens to save you money!
  • Limit your time in expensive countries. We focused our itinerary on places where we knew our money could stretch. Australia, Japan, Chile, Western Europe — we’ll catch you later!
  • Stay flexible, track your spending, and don’t be afraid to splurge. We hadn’t originally planned on going to Africa or the Galapagos. But by tracking our expenses, we realized we were under budget and could afford it. Sure, we spent as much in 3 weeks in Africa as we had spent in the 3 months before that. But it was totally worth it.
  • Save up for re-entry. You probably don’t want to come home running on budgetary fumes. We set a stash of our trip fund aside to cover our expenses for several months when we returned home. We didn’t want to feel forced to take the first job opportunity that came along if it wasn’t a good fit.

It was posts like this on other blogs that helped us realize taking some time off from the rat-race was totally do-able. We hope others find this helpful, informational, inspiring, or, at the very least, convince you that we aren’t spoiled trust-fund kids!

Curious about our spending in a specific country? Click here for a list of our budget reports on each segment of the trip.

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